Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) Bird information


Little Grebe is the smallest in the grebe family, most widespread and numerous of the grebes, found on a variety of inland waters, mostly with plentiful vegetation emerging above water.

In summer, rust-red cheeks, throat and neck with a bold yellow spot at the base of the bill. In winter, dark cap
and upperparts; buffy throat, neck and flanks.

Little Grebe is Saxes alike bird. India’s smallest water-bird, squat and tailless. Plumage silky and compact; dark brown above; white in flight feathers; white abdomen.

Status: widespread breeding resident; often quite numerous (semi-colonial) at favoured waters both summer and winter.

Similar Species: Litlle Grebe can be confused with Slavonian Grebe and Black-necked Grebe in winter but
short, square-cut tail distinguishes.

Breeding: Chestnut sides of head, neck and throat; black chin; blackish-brown crown, hindneck.

Winter Appearance: Little Grebe Bird has a white chin; brown crown, hind-neck; rufous neck. Purely aquatic; seen singly or in small, scattered groups, often diving and swimming beneath the surface.

Food: aquatic insects, frogs, crustacea.

Voice: shrill trilling notes and an occasional click.

Range: all India, to 2000m in Kashmir. Resident ‘in most areas.

Habitat: village tanks, deep jheels, lakes, reservoirs.

Bird Facts

Size25 – 29 cm (10 – 11 in)
Habitatfreshwater, estuaries
Behaviourswims, dives from surface, takes off and lands on water
Flockingcolonial; small flocks winter
Flightlaborious; direct
Voicebrief whit-whit, loud, far-carrying whinnying song
Scientific NameTachybaptus ruficollis

Little Grebe bird identification


Tailbuff; short and rounded
Billblack with yellow sport at base; short and stubby
Legsgreen; short
Ad.winterbrown above, buff below
Juveniledark cap, Ad.winter


Nestfloating mound in water
Eggs4 – 6 white
Incubation19 – 25 days
Youngactive; downy
Fledging44 – 48 days
Broods2; April – July
Foodfish, insects, crustaceans
Population9000 – 18,000 pairs; 11,000+ winter

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